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12 Feb '13

When Christian leaders get angry

Posted by T.J. Addington in anger, emotional intelligence (EQ), unhealthy leaders
Few things are more destructive to God's work than angry Christian leaders. First, when God's leaders get angry, they often lose all the grace, wisdom and principles they have taught for decades.

I remember one such angry leader when he realized that he had lost the confidence of the board of his church, blew up and threatened not to leave (he had a zero confidence vote) and said he was willing to see the church of 500 go down to 150 if necessary - with him there. This from someone who had taught in that congregation Biblical principles for over a decade. Everyone around him is shaking their heads (except those he roped into his cause) wondering what snapped in his thinking to even consider such a scenario.

The same can be said for pastors who get into conflict in their churches and choose to plant another church in the community knowing full well that they will split the church they are leaving. Somehow the "ill treatment" they experienced gives them the rationale for now splitting the Bride of Christ and believing it is OK. It is as if a key spiritual discernment fuse blew in his anger and what would have been wrong a year ago is now not only right but the spiritual thing to do. Contrast this with the response of Jesus when he was treated unfairly!

I heard recently of a leader who has left his large church after a disagreement with his leaders - he didn't want to be under their authority anymore - who is telling folks that he is going to start a rival church in town and take a large portion of those who were in his prior church. If one of his own leaders had suggested such a thing in  the past this leader would have immediately put them under church discipline but somehow in his "righteous" anger he is now willing to violate everything he had said was wrong previously - and spiritualize and justify it.

Anger in spiritual leaders can easily lead to irrational, sinful, destructive behaviors where spiritual discernment and wisdom are thrown off and behaviors they once considered abhorrent are now OK for them. Frankly it is scary to watch. It is like watching King Saul implode after he chose to go his own way rather than follow God in the Old Testament. I have recently watched such an implosion and watched a friend who for years exhibited spiritual discernment go in the absolute opposite direction like one making a right turn. It makes me wary of my own spiritual health and the need to stay current with God and not allow my own flesh to decide the rules no longer apply to me.

One other observation. When this happens it seems that spiritual leaders have stopped listening to those who gave them wise counsel in the past and now only listen to those who fuel their new irrational behaviors. It is scary to watch because it could be any one of us in Christian leadership who choose to walk down an angry and self righteous path. A path that the evil one seems to use to destroy much of the good that they had accomplished in the past.